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Blue Is The Colour

So, now that Blu-ray is the only show in town, are we going to see a high definition revolution? Unfortunately I don't see the flood gates opening just yet, with most consumers still happy with the quality that standard DVD offers. Also, pricing on the high street is still holding Blu-ray back, with most retailers charging around £25 for a disc, while you can usually walk in off the street and buy multiple DVDs for £20. Of course if you buy online, Blu-ray discs are far more reasonably priced, but prices have to drop on the high street to facilitate the all important impulse purchase.

But with all the talk and discussion this week, the one thing that has surprised me more than anything is the suggestion that disc based movie sales will soon be a thing of the past. I've lost count of the amount of people who have suggested to me that digital downloads are the future for movie distribution, and if you look at Microsoft's recent Video Marketplace launch on Xbox Live, it's clear that Mr Gates agrees wholeheartedly with this train of thought. In fact, if I was feeling particularly cynical, I'd suggest that Microsoft's decision not to include an HD DVD drive in the Xbox 360 was driven by its desire to sell downloadable movies instead.

I don't see digital downloads as a viable alternative to what Blu-ray has to offer though. For a start, a high encode Blu-ray disc is going to fill the best part of a 50GB disc and that kind of data download will take a very long time, no matter how fast your broadband connection. And even if you have the patience of a saint and are willing to wait for your 1080p, high definition download to complete, most broadband packages these days have download limits, so choosing to download your high definition fix could work out more expensive than buying a disc in the first place.

Looking up at my shelf, I can see an almost equal number of HD DVD and Blu-ray discs. I guess it's now inevitable that I'll have to replace the HD DVDs at some point, but since I still have both players hooked up to my TV I'm in no rush. But I'm not the type of person who will benefit from the Blu-ray victory, it's the general consumer who has been too scared to buy into either high definition format who this week breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps now all those high definition TVs that have been sold over the past couple of years can be used to their full potential.

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